In today’s fast-paced digital world, space is highly competitive. That is why SEO (search engine optimization) and CRO (conversion rate optimization) have become so important to stay relevant in Google results and to accomplish your content marketing goals. But how do you know if your site is both effective and properly optimized? This can be done through a content audit.
A content audit analyzes website content to provide recommendations that can improve the SEO and CRO of the site. This is done by evaluating all indexable content, including the main navigational pages and blog posts (if there are any). The audit can serve as a highly efficient tool that can help you understand how to pivot your content marketing strategy and make your site more accessible to your audience.
During the audit process, many factors are considered before advice is given by the party conducting the audit. Although each audit is somewhat subjective, some aspects of a site that you can expect to see include:
- The quality and uniqueness of content
- The relevance and timeliness of content
- The ease of the user experience (UX)
- Internal and external link usage
- The presence of duplicate pages
- How each page ranks in search engine results pages (SERPs)
- Gaps in content and performance
- Traffic metrics such as bounce rates, click-through rates (CTRs), publishing dates, and time spent on pages
Common Audit Topics & Recommendations
Let’s take a look at some of the topics and types of recommendations you may come across during a website content audit.
Internal linking refers to hyperlinks within a website that click through to other pages in the same domain. In other words, the links point to other pages that exist within a single website.
Internal linking is critical in SEO and your content strategy for a number of reasons. Most importantly, these links tell web crawling tools like those used by Google how to index your site. This helps establish a hierarchy for data and information to give Google an idea of how the site is structured. It can then determine what the value of the content is, as well as its relationship with other content on the site. This allows search engines to rank the content in terms of relevance and importance .
Ideally, your most important information (“cornerstone content”) should have more internal links pointing to it. It is also recommended that pages with related content and sub-content are linking back to each other so Google knows they are complementary when your site is crawled. An seo content audit can help give you a better idea of how to utilize internal links on your site to achieve your ranking goals and should also help improve your website’s click-through rate and bounce rate when reviewing Google Analytics.
The architecture of how a website is organized is a huge consideration during the auditing process. Not only is an organized site with a clear hierarchy important for SEO as we mentioned previously; it can make a huge impact on the way visitors use your site (or if they even use it at all!). In fact, the architecture of your site is sometimes as significant as the content itself because of the influence it can have on your audience and the user experience.
A well-organized website with an easy-to-follow hierarchy of content means a great experience for the visitor. This is because it makes content easier to find while making browsing your site more seamless and intuitive, hopefully improving you sales funnel. After all, we are in an instant-gratification web era. If someone comes to your site and doesn’t immediately find what they are looking for in a short time, there is a good chance they will leave.
Here are some areas of improvement you might come across during content audits:
- Making sure internal links are used to direct users to important or related content
- Ensuring any navigational features are clear and smartly-placed
- Being certain the homepage and any landing pages are connecting users to the most pertinent content
- Making sure there is a visual hierarchy to your site
- Confirming typography elements such as headlines, body copy, and calls-to-action (CTAs) are intuitively placed and sized
- Checking that photos are related to content
You may not realize it, but images can play a major role in how your content performs and ranks in SERPs. That is why it is important that your images be optimized as well.
Think about it: not only does Google show image results for web searches, but people are attracted to images that make an impression on them. Whether their checking out a blog post or social media, people often scan images before text, looking for a visual cue that will catch their attention.
During a content audit, the following will likely be considered:
- Files names (the more searchable and straightforward, the better)
- File sizes (images should be scaled so they load quickly)
- Alt text (tags should include relevant keywords in case the images can’t load)
- Relation to content (images should directly relate to the content on a page so visitors make a connection even if they don’t read the text)
Headings (and subheadings) not only help users navigate your webpage; they also help Google analyze the information for ranking purposes.
Although Google has not directly touched on the subject, it is widely accepted that the way your headings are structured has an impact on how your website is ranked. Put simply, this is because they indicate what the most important information is.
During content audits, headings will likely be looked at to ensure they properly reflect the content on the page and utilize relevant keywords. For both users and crawling tools, it is important that each header highlights the main topic of the page, while the subheads touch on subtopics.
For Google to properly crawl a page, the page has to have an amount of content that Google’s algorithm considers relevant. During this in-depth analysis, target word counts will likely be taken into consideration to address this.
Although the recommended number of words can fluctuate based on the ever-changing ranking algorithms of search engines, it is generally recommended that each page has a minimum of 600 words on it. As a rule of thumb, longer pages tend to rank higher. For our blogs, we typically aim for 1,000-2,000 words because of this.
While content length is important in content marketing, having a high word count on a page does not automatically correlate with higher page rankings. During a content audit, the quality of content is also considered. After all, not everything needs a 1,000-word explanation.
When looking at the quality of the content on a page, many things are taken into account. These can include:
- Grammar use (proper grammar and spelling should be foremost)
- Keyword use (relevant keywords should be included, but stuffing should be avoided)
- Relevancy and accuracy (pages should be up-to-date)
Remember, quality should always come before quantity. If your content isn’t clear or accurate or fails to bring the reader value, it may as well not exist at all.
Another area that is often looked at during the process of a content audit (but often overlooked otherwise) is the use and placement of any call-to-action on a page. For example, a very basic call-to-action could be “click here” or “add to cart”.
So why are CTAs important when it comes to content creation and content audits? Because their strength can influence whether or not a user decides to engage in a way that you want them to, affecting your conversion rates.
When it comes to calls to action, recommendations include:
- Making sure the action you want users to take is clear
- Ensuring there are not multiple conflicting CTAs
- Having CTAs called out in some way (whether they are bolded, colorful, use images or buttons, etc.)
- Making sure CTAs are placed in a logical way on a page
Why Should You Get a Content Audit?
There are many ways a content audit of your website can benefit your company. Here are just a few reasons to have a content audit done:
- To ensure your website is putting its best foot forward and capitalizing on all opportunities to increase organic traffic
- To confirm you have high-quality content and high credibility (or get help if you don’t)
- To increase the leads or sales generated through your website by getting rid of the nonsense and simplifying the user experience
- To learn how to strengthen content strategy and capitalize on low-hanging fruit
- To ensure that content is clear and free of grammatical issues
- To remove or update ineffective and outdated content
- To pinpoint gaps in the content that can be addressed
- To be sure your content is ranking for the right keywords
- To set and analyze goals for website performance
- To help your website gain authority
The content audit is a convenient, exhaustive tool that looks at your website in terms of quality and rankability, but it is also time-consuming and a lot of factors go into it. To get a truly valuable and thorough audit, it is best to work with a reliable, trusted digital marketing expert or team. But remember, a content audit is not an end-all; your content should be carefully curated regularly in order to stay strong and relevant.